1964-09-12 - Matzo Ball Soup
Summary: Kai and Elmo discuss how they spend their summers.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
elmo kai 

This is the place to go for fabric, and Kai has a lot to tie-dye, so he comes out of one of the many fabric stores on the Lower East Side with a bolt-sized parcel wrapped in brown paper. A ratty little dog on the street outside, his leash tied to a tree, perks up and barks a greeting to Kai, who unties his leash and says, "There's a good boy." The little brown dog hops around Kai's feet, then barks at an indifferent pigeon.

Elmo comes out of one of the dingier little houseware shops, looking miserable even for him. He stops to light up a cigarettesaving smoking for /out/side? weirdoand when he looks up, he spots Kai. His eyebrows leap in astonishment and he yells, "Kai!" and then kind of looks like he wishes he hadn't, but he's committed now. He heads over.

Kai looks over, and his eyes widen. "Elmo!" Cue a warm, broad smile with dimples. The dog cocks his head as he watches Elmo. Then he sidles behind Kai's legs to bark once, then hide. Kai glances down at the dog, clucks his tongue, then comes up to Elmo and hugs him, giving him a solid (yet not too solid)) clap on the shoulder. "How have you been!"

Elmo does the unthinkable and hugs Kai. Hugs the heck out of him. And slightly a little bit shoves his face into Kai's shoulder (cigarette safely in hand) and makes a noise that might sound like a choked sob if this weren't Elmo who would rather get angry than any other emotion. He mumbles something unintelligeble against Kai's shirt. The random junk he's always got in his coat pockets is hard and lumpy when mashed against someone, it turns out.

Kai bears the uncomfortable coat pockets in favor of hugging Elmo. The little dog barks, whining a little. What's going on? Little dog doesn't know. He wags in case it's a good thing, but his tail is curled down in case it isn't, so he' more or less dusting his ankles. Kai murmurs, "I missed you, mate. Though you'd disappeared on me. It's so good to see you."

Elmo heaves in a great big breath and disengages, already looking annoyed again. Probably at himself for being so sappy. He scrubs at his eyes. "Sorry, I just—I missed you too." The dog barking gets his attention and he looks down, quirky smile appearing. "Hey tateleh, I ain't gonna hurt ya man."

Kai's smile is sunny as a spring morning. "I missed you, too. I worried. You wouldn't believe what I've been through." The little dog perks up one ear (the other is perpetually floppy) when Elmo addresses him. "Go on, Kevin, say hello." Kevin the dog wags at the sound of Kai's voice and comes sniffing over to Elmo's feet.

Elmo crouches to offer a hand to Kevin, using the dog as an excuse to get out of Kai's smile line of fire. Too intense! He's incredibly embarrassed with himself and literally everything in the world, but he pretends it's all about the dog. "Hey, buddy, you a good boy for Kai?"

Kevin licks Elmo's fingers, tail whipping back and forth. Elmo is his new best friend! Let it be known: Kevin is an ugly dog. He's brown, wiry, a mutt with some terrier in his family tree, not much bigger than a cat. No, not a good-looking animal, but a happy one. Oh gosh, so happy! "Yes," Kai says, looking down at them both. "He's a good boy. Aren't you, Kev? What a good boy."

Elmo grins some, ruffling Kevin's ears. "I didn't know you even had a dog," he says, standing up. Now that he's somewhat under control of his stupid emotions, he looks back at Kai. Oops, an emotion slipped out—honest delight to see him. "You wanna go get coffee? I'm just off work."

"He adopted me a few months go," Kai says. "I took him home because what else was I going to do? He'd get eaten by a cat without me." Kevin wags, oblivious. He's got Kai and his new best friend Elmo. He's set. "I'd love to get coffee," Kai says. "I was about to anyway. I can even pay!"

Elmo scoffs in Jewish. "Please, you paid for me a million times already. My treat. C'mon." Destination: one of the delicatessens featuring old men playing chess, kvetching included.

Kai falls into step with Elmo and says, "Sure, sure. I won't turn down a free coffee." Kevin walks along on his leash, smelling things, sneezing, marking a tree on the way so other dogs know he was passing through. He's just a dopey little dog on top of the world. "So what have you been up to?" Kai says.

Elmo's mouth twists. He glances up at the surrounding tenements, at the pedestrians, before apparently deciding he didn't know anybody. "Prison," he mutters, hunching up.

Kai whistles low, which causes Kevin to glance up at him, one ear flopping. Kai says, "Wow, that's… wow. What did the pigs do you for, mate?" he asks. He clasps Elmo's shoulder in a gesture of sympathy. Solidarity. In his mind, it's already the police's fault.

Elmo doesn't even seem to mind the touching. Maybe even he likes it. He heaves in a deep breath, lets it go slowly. "Theftbut I wasn't stealin'," he says, getting heated. "It was already in the dumpster! That's trash! It was gonna go to the junkyard and I get stuff from there all the time so what's the diff" he cuts himself off, scowling furiously. "And, yanno, maybe I kinda, hurt the cop a little bit," he mumbles.

"What!?" Kai stops for a moment to just look at Elmo, then makes up for the steps lost in a rush. "Dumpster diving is a basic civil right! The cop never should've been there in the first place." He pauses, then asks, "How badly did you hurt the cop?"

"Just a little," Elmo mutters, miserably. "He /scared/ me. Pulled me out by the collar and I didn't know he was a cop, thought he was gonna hurt me. I…you know…zapped him a little." He looks at his left hand, flexing his long skinny fingers. "He was real mad," he adds, with a bitter little chuckle. "Told the judge a crazy story about how I must be one a' them mutants. I ain't a mutant and I told 'em so. They were talking about putting me in some kind of mutant prison but then they didn't."

"You were defending yourself," Kai insists, aggressively agreeable. "I can't stand what they're doing to mutants," he adds. "I'm fighting back. I'm going to do an art show humanizing mutants. It's going to be real 'in your face.' Because of things like what happened to you." He pauses, then says, "You know there's nothing wrong with being a mutant, man."

Elmo grunts. "They get beat up and 'relocated'," he air-quotes, "that sure seems wrong to me. Not their fault. Ain't that different from being Jewish, I guess." He pulls open the door of the deli for Kai, like a gentleman. "How is an art show fighting back? How's that work?"

Kai sees if he can sneak Kevin in, like if he doesn't acknowledge the dog, the dog's not there, ho hum. "Yeah, but there's nothing wrong with being Jewish either," Kai says. "It's the system that's wrong, and the system needs to be brought down." He nods decisively. He smiles in passing as Elmo holds the door open for him. "Thank you." Then, "It's harder to pull the trigger on someone you're looking in the eye."

Sadly for Kevin, a sharp-eyed and cranky waitress spots him immediately. "Hey! You, there, boychik—no dogs! Take that thing outside!" Elmo tries valiantly to defend Kevin, "Hey, he ain't hurtin' nobody," but the lady stares him down and repeats herself to Kai, "OUT."

Kai's eyes widen and he lays a hand to his chest. The hand holding the leash since he's got that parcel under one arm. "He's just a little dude, man, not hurting anyone." The emphatic 'OUT' causes Kevin to hunker. Kai looks wounded. Deeply wounded. "You're scaring him," he says. And when little dogs get scared… At least it's just three droplets of piddle, melting the grime just inside the front door. Which Kai opens. "Sorry, Kev, you've got to wait outside. I tried, man."

"That's no dog, that's a New York rat if I ever seen one," says some old wise guy playing chess. The old wise guy he's playing chess with replies, "You haven't seen since 1952, you blind old bat. Now move." Elmo unconvincingly tries not to laugh. "Sorry, buddy," he says to Kevin, maybe because he's laughing at him.

Kevin ducks his head, his tail tucked between his legs. He's not sure why these things keep happening, but Kai is winding his leash around the leg of a newspaper box. "Sorry mate," he murmurs, giving the dog an ear ruffling. "There's a good boy." He grins at the old man who calls his dog a rat. "I think a rat could take him in a fair fight," he says.

"Hah!" The old fellow barks a laugh. "I like this one." Elmo glances at Kai with half a smirk. "C'mon, they do great matzoh ball soup here. You like matzoh ball soup? Of course you do, everybody does." He finds a booth and slides in. The waitress, grumbling, brings coffee unasked.

Kai glances back at the door to see his dog once more. Kevin sits there looking pathetic. Then he lies down and looks pathetic, heaving a big doggy sigh. Kai angles so that he can see the dog from their booth. "I can't wait to try it," he tells Elmo. "I'm always looking for new cuisines." He flashes the waitress a thousand Watt smile and says, "Thanks, luv." He's got an English accent, he can get away with 'luv,' can't he?

The redoubtable lady eyes Kai while pouring his coffee. "Sweet talker," she says, not as a compliment. "You want the soup?" Elmo, actively trying not to snicker, says, "We want the soup. And chopped liver." The waitress sighs, as if this is the burden of her days, and leaves. Elmo shoves his hand against his mouth to hide his grin. "You're a hit," he assures Kai, eyes sparkling.

Kai grins at her, unashamed. When she's gone, he winks at Elmo. "What can I say? I'm a sweet boy." Outside, Kevin lies on his side in the dirt, sound asleep. When someone walks by, his tail whaps the ground a few times. Hey, they could be a friend. Kai watches, and he's satisfied his pooch is okay. Looking back to Elmo, he says, "So much has happened, it seems like a lifetime."

"Yeah? What happened?" Elmo leans forward a little, elbows on the table. "You seem okay," he adds, giving Kai a health assesment once-over. "I mean, not dead, right?"

Kai laughs a little, and he stirs a lot of sugar into his coffee. A lot. "Actually, you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but yeah. I'm not dead anymore. It would all sound like a fairy tale to you, man, but for my people, it's just same shit different cast and crew."

Elmo blinks, replaying that in his mind. "Any/more/? You saying you were? But you—what?" His eyebrows are concerned. "For reals, you're not just talkin' an artist thing?"

Kai shakes his head and says in a low tone, "You're not going to believe me, mate!" He leans forward, arms folded on the table, so he can close as much distance as possible, the better to modulate his tone. "I can't remember if I ever told you I'm not from around here."

Elmo matches Kai's leaning, listening intently. "Yeah? You're from England." It suddenly occurs to him that maybe Kai means something entirely different. "Ain'tcha?"

Kai sighs quietly, then he says, "Oi, yeah, never mind, mate. My summer's just been summer, you know?" He smiles broadly, that dimpled, winning smile. "I was just having you on. I lost my job, but now I'm doing art and that guy Serrure is my patron."

Elmo narrows his eyes. Leans in. Tells Kai in a low, menacing voice, "If you lie to me, I'm gonna ruin your shirt with this coffee." He brandishes it. "/Test/ me, ya jerk."

Kai glances down at the shirt. Nng, it's one of his psychedelic ones. He doesn't want to lose it. "You won't believe me," he warns. "And you'll go ballistic in public and we'll get thrown out. Kevin will bark because he barks when he gets nervous."

Elmo hmphfs. "Please, when do I /ever/ overreact?" Just the corner of his mouth tugs up, wryly. "Seriously. I won't. Promise. Kai…" He reaches over to grip Kai's wrist, in a deliberate motion that he clearly has to think about to perform, but he does it, and it's sincere. "You don't gotta tell me anything. But…if ya do…" trailing off, he raises his eyebrows at Kai soulfully. "I'll listen, okay? I gotta look out for you. You're too dumb not to smoke out of a muffler."

Kai regards Elmo for a moment. Then he laughs a little and ducks his head. "I'm just tough, all right?" He looks up, those big blue eyes grave as he says, so very quietly, "I'm not human. I'm not from this world. I mean, I was born here and I consider it my home. I love it to pieces — in one piece — but it's not where my parents are from. You remember when the Asgardians first came to light? Yeah?" Because a certain someone displayed his powers on the Ed Sullivan show.

Elmo nods, letting go of Kai now that he's given in. Extended touching of people, still iffy. "Yeah. Think everybody in the world remembers that." He stops to let Kai go on, his expression intensely curious, yet—caring. He's not going to yell at Kai, at least, not soon.

Kai manages to look somewhat hangdog as he admits, "I'm not Asgardian, but I'm from a place in the same neighborhood called Alfheim. "My parents eloped and came to Midgard — Earth — to hide. I was kind of a unintended consequence of their unholy matrimony. I was born in England."

Elmo blinks at Kai, without a wiseass remark for the first time in his life. He doesn't seem to be able to say anything. Which works out, because at that point the cranky waitress reappears, putting down first a plate of pate and a basket of sliced hard rye, then bowls of soup with matzoh balls in them so big that if they were in space, they'd have to be classified as a planet.

Kai smiles at the waitress reflexively, as though he draws his power from her crankiness. "Thank you, this all smells delightful." He sits up a bit, glancing at Elmo as he takes up a spoon for his soup. He smiles a little, and once the waitress is gone, he says, half-apologetic, "In 1695. I just had my real birthday back in August. I don't tend to tell anyone because, well, old."

"Best in the East Side," the waitress informs Kai, before leaving. Elmo looks at the food as if he's not exactly sure what it is. He's probably concentrating really hard on not yelling. Several seconds go by. "Wow," he says eventually, looking up at Kai. "I guess now I know why you didn't wanna tell me. That all sounds pretty wild." He thinks about it a minute more. "You really are from England, though. That counts," he says firmly, arbiter of alien geneaology.

Kai smiles, shoulders sagging, and he says, "Yes, genuinely English. I've lived here for all except about thirty years." He samples the matzo ball soup, scooping into one of those dumplings, and he says in a quiet, reverent voice, "I love this soup forever." Then he spoons up another bite. Sure sure, he's an alien, whatever, but this soup.

Elmo gets a slow, delighted grin. Sure Kai's an alien, but matzoh ball soup is universal. "Ain't that weird," he says, still kind of working out the whole alien thing. "I mean, Asgardians exist, so why can't other people be out there too? Thor's flyin' around with a hammer, you just wear funny shirts. That's practically normal! Okay, but, you're so /old/," he adds, marvelling. "Yer older than /America/." He gets a slice of bread smeared with the liver pate.

Kai says, "Yeah, I fought in the Revolution." He samples the liver pate as well. This agrees with him, and he relaxes as he tucks into a much desired lunch. "For the Americans," he says. "I've always been counter-culture." He winks at that. He's not wrong, after all. The bread is delightful, too! Apparently elves like Jewish cuisine. "Anyway, for most of my life, I've lived here, and I love it. I'll protect this planet with everything I've got."

"That makes you American, for sure," Elmo says, after demolishing a couple pieces of the hard, sour rye. "Can't nobody say otherwise." Really, who doesn't like Jewish cuisine? Space elves are no exception. Wait until Kai tries brisket. "I guess," he says, slowly, as it occurs to him, "we kinda need protectin'. Stuff keeps happening."

"We're in good hands, though," Kai says. "The Avengers are back together. You've got people like me who will fight to defend the place. You couldn't ask for a better protector than Prince Thor. He's the real deal, man." His eyes have that certain glimmer of a hopeless fan boy. "This soup is amazing."

Elmo looks pleased. "Ain't it? Nothing better. You know Thor, huh? Well, if you vouch for him, I guess he's okay." He works on the soup for a while. "Thanks for telling me," he says, suddenly shy.

Kai grins, and he ducks his head as he says, "Thanks for not yelling. I know it's a lot to take in, and that's not even what happened this summer. Which reminds me, how was the big house? Did you make any friends?" Because Kai? Kai would make friends wherever he went.

Elmo snorts. "Boring. Real /effin'/ boring." He stabs at a matzoh ball, vindictively. "Some guys tried to mess with me. I made 'em leave me alone. Some guys were okay. One guy worked in the shop and I got him to let me fix up some of their old machines." Giving Kai a wry look, he says, "I'm no good at making friends. You oughta know that."

"I thought maybe you'd hit your stride," Kai says. "You never know." He takes another bite of bread with pate, then says, "So when I tell you my summer was full of a bunch of fairtale bullshit, you'll have context, right? I kind of come from what you guys would consider folklore."

"Eh. I read about Thor and Loki in mythology books when I was a kid, so you're like that, right?" Elmo says philosophically. "Maybe those books were more like history than mythology."

"An interesting take on history, yeah," Kai says. "A culture as advanced as theirs, to people from that time period, would've seemed like, you know, gods and devils and monsters and whatnot. I'm from the people they called elves. We're not quite a powerful as the Asgardians, but we're close. Just like in the stories."

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